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Posts Tagged ‘employment experts

Solicitor sues colleague over sexual harassment claim

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A married solicitor who is employed by Anglian Water and who was cleared of sexually harassing a female colleague is now suing her for libel claiming that the false allegations have damaged his personal and professional reputation.

Paul Loughran, 50, has been employed by Anglian Water for eight years as a litigation solicitor and is responsible for minimising legal risk to the company. He appointed Kerrie Edge, 29, as a paralegal in March 2009. Miss Edge had previously worked in the customer services department of the company.

In April last year she took time off work and provided a doctor’s note stating that she was suffering from stress. She remained off work until September when she resigned. Mr Loughran claims that Miss Edge took the time off to avoid a performance improvement plan and a misconduct investigation.

Mr Loughran discovered in August that she had made an allegation to the company that she had been sexually harassed by him. The claim was investigated by Anglian Water who went on to clear Mr Loughran.

He is now alleging slander and libel and claiming damages of £1,000.

Mr Loughran told the Daily Telegraph: “I’m not very happy about it, to say the least,”
“You can’t go around saying things like this. Miss Edge is attractive to some people, but not to me, and what she said simply was not true.

“I asked her to stop repeating the allegations and I even wrote to her asking for an apology, but none was forthcoming.”

When asked about the case Miss Edge said: “I have nothing to say about it at the moment. I do not work there anymore.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

April 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

New privacy policy implemented by Google despite EU warning

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Google, the internet company, has pressed on with its new privacy policy even though it has been warned by the EU that it contravenes European law.

The new policy will allow Google to share information collected on one service such as the Google search engine with others such as YouTube, Gmail and Blogger. Google have claimed that the changes will enable it to better tailor searches.

There has been, concerns, particularly in France that the new regime will breach European laws and a Europe-wide investigation has been launched. The CNIL which is France’s privacy watchdog has written to Google calling for a “pause” in the implementation of the new policy. They stated that: “The CNIL and EU data authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services,”

The regulator added: “They have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and its compliance with European data protection legislation.”

Peter Fleisher, Google’s global privacy counsel responded by saying that he was happy to answer any concerns raised by CNIL. Writing in a blog Mr Fleischer stated: “As we’ve said several times over the past week, while our privacy policies will change on 1st March, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever,”

In the UK, campaign group Big Brother Watch have conducted a poll of more than 2,000 people which suggested that 47% of Google users in the UK were not aware of the policy changes and only 12% of users had read the new agreement. They have argued that more should be done to inform users of the changes.

Written by Andrew Hodges

April 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

Smartphone divorces becoming more common

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Couples currently going through a divorce have been warned over the use of the smartphone, after research in the US found that texts are increasingly being used as evidence in divorce proceedings.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), over 90% of America’s top divorce attorneys said they have seen a spike in the number of cases using evidence from iPhones and other smartphones in the past three years.

The rise in texting evidence follows a similar trend two years ago when the AAML noticed a surge in evidence from Facebook pages.

“With emails you can think about and rewrite them. There is a window of opportunity to rethink what you are saying but text messaging is immediate,” said Ken Altshuler, President of the AAML. “We get a lot of text messages that people send out without thinking.”

Texts can often be a form of “spontaneous venting”, added Mr Altshuler, but they can come back to haunt people because they are written records of someone’s thoughts, actions and intentions.

“I have used text messaging for cross examination,” said Altshuler, who has also submitted texts as evidence. “I would say in the last six months there have been a lot of text messages involved in litigation. For whatever reason, people are texting more and not thinking about what they are texting.”

Text messaging was the most common form of divorce evidence taken from smartphones, according to the AAML poll, followed by emails, phone numbers, call histories, GPS and Internet search histories.

In turn, Mr Altshuler has advised his clients not to use Facebook, but added that only about half follow his advice.

“Anything that is in writing, you have to assume that someday a judge is going to see it,” he added. “So, if it is not something that you don’t want a judge to see, don’t write it down.”

Written by Andrew Hodges

April 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Government contemplates relaxing employment protection laws

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In a further effort to stimulate Britain’s flagging economy, Chancellor George Osborne is said to be considering a relaxation of employment protection legislation in next month’s Budget.

A story run in the Independent revealed that Conservative MPs are keen for Osborne to unveil a “go for growth” package in his Budget on 21 March, despite possible arguments with Liberal Democrats, which would lessen existing employment protection rights.

The news follows the controversial government-commissioned Beecroft report, which in 2011 suggested that employers should be granted permission to sack poorly-performing staff more easily through “no-fault dismissals”.

The government rejected Beecroft’s suggestions, electing instead to introduce “protected conversations” – which meant employers would be free to speak to employees about poor performance without fear of an employment tribunal. But reports suggest that Mr Osborne may make a U-turn.

Business minister Norman Lamb is said to be investigating a watered-down version of the Beecroft report, which will offer relaxed rules to employers with fewer than 10 employees.

Written by Andrew Hodges

April 3, 2012 at 8:40 am

Woman seeks legal assistance to appeal employment tribunal decision

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Care worker Sue Angold was sacked from her job at a sheltered housing block after assisting an elderly lady who had fallen. Ms Angold responded to the alarm raised by the pensioner who was soaked in urine and unable to get up to clean herself. She was dismissed by Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) because she helped her get on to the commode and wash without waiting for assistance from trained staff with a hoist.

Ms Angold was also evicted from the home she had lived in for 20 years at the Seven Acres Housing Development as it came with her job as area manager. SHP claimed she had failed to adhere to health and safety rules during the incident which took place in May 2010.

Ms Angold took a claim to the employment tribunal but lost and is now seeking the assistance of a lawyer who can act for her with legal aid to appeal the verdict. She believes that she was sacked because she had raised concerns over the management of the Partnership. She said “The woman was crying and in an awful state. In the care profession you can’t just say it’s not part of my job. I did the right thing but as a result I’ve lost my job and my home. This wasn’t an isolated incident. The management knew that, but were out to get me because I was a whistle-blower and had raised concerns about poor leadership and how residents’ needs weren’t being met.”

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Reed lose appeal on tax treatment

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Twelve companies forming part of the Reed Group have lost an appeal at the First Tier Tribunal over the tax treatment of travel and subsidence payments. The payments were made to staff on temporary contracts. The payments were made as salary sacrifices. The Tribunal agreed with HMRC that these should have been subject to PAYE.

A spokesperson for the Reed Group said “We are extremely disappointed with the decision taken by the tax tribunal and we will be appealing. The case raises a number of highly complex legal issues and it has taken over nine months for this decision to be reached. We would like to clarify that this is a dispute between HMRC and Reed Group, and this case does not have an impact on temporary workers past or present. There has also been no decision taken on the size of the claim, and Reed Group disputes the figure proposed by HMRC.”

One of the concepts considered in the complex case included whether the scheme was effective as a salary sacrifice arrangement. The tribunal concluded that a salary sacrifice implies a reciprocal arrangement between employer and employee. The employee must give up their salary in return for a recognisable benefit provided by the employer. The Tribunal concluded that the scheme in the case was not an effective sacrifice because the Reed Group did not offer something in return and also retained a significant amount. Also it did not qualify because employees could opt out at any time.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

Pension auto-enrolment delay confirmed

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SMEs concerned about meeting the upcoming deadlines for pension auto-enrolment can breathe easy after the government confirmed that the scheme has been delay until August 1 2015 at the earliest.

The extension means firms employing between 30 and 49 staff will now have to enrol staff until August 2015, with those employing fewer than 30 staff given until 1 January 2016.

Small businesses are struggling to thrive in the current economy, and the thought of increasing red tape was beginning to panic many of those who hadn’t already made dispensations for the original 2014 deadlines. As such, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) Chief Executive, Phil Orford, has welcomed the government’s extension, claiming “this temporary delay will allow small firms to now focus fully on running their business until the economy is back in firmer territory”.

“We believe this will also allow small business the extra time to plan for and subsequently implement the scheme successfully,” he added.

The level of pension contributions will also be phased in over time to help employers and individuals adjust, the government has revealed, with full contributions not necessary until 1 October 2018.

But while business groups have embraced the government’s decision, workers’ unions have been less thrilled, with TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber labelling the delay as “deeply disappointing”.

“Everyone agrees that we face a pensions crisis, with two out of three private sector workers not in any kind of workplace pension,” said Mr Barber. “(The government’s) announcement does not just hit the staff of small employers. What’s worse is that even workers auto-enrolled this year will now have to wait until the end of the staging process before they get their full contribution.”

For more on pension auto-enrolment and how it may affect your business, contact our employment experts today.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 6, 2012 at 11:06 am